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Parents cry out as schools hike fees 

By Vision Reporter

Added 3rd February 2009 03:00 AM

THE Global economic meltdown is pushing fuel and food prices up in most countries. In Uganda, the high cost of living has put pressure on school budgets triggering an increase in bills, making parents struggle with tuition.

THE Global economic meltdown is pushing fuel and food prices up in most countries. In Uganda, the high cost of living has put pressure on school budgets triggering an increase in bills, making parents struggle with tuition.

By Frederick Womakuyu

THE Global economic meltdown is pushing fuel and food prices up in most countries. In Uganda, the high cost of living has put pressure on school budgets triggering an increase in bills, making parents struggle with tuition.

John Muyingo, the headteacher of Uganda Martyrs S.S Namugongo, used to spend sh15m on laboratory facilities a year. However, this has doubled because suppliers have increased the price, citing high transport costs.

“The cost of living is high. Teachers are demanding an increase in their salaries to meet the high costs of living, but we do not have the capacity,” Muyingo says.

At City High School, the administrators say the high price of food and scholastic materials have forced them to make many adjustments.

“We used to buy a ream of paper at sh7,000, but this has risen to sh12,000. We have been forced to look for alternative ways of raising the money since the Government does not allow us to increase the tuition,” says Claire Nduhura, the headteacher.

The school has asked parents to buy a ream of paper for each child as they report back, which has left many parents complaining.
“We pay fees. The school is supposed to provide the paper. This is an extra fee and we shall not stand this nonsense,” argues Martin Wesonge, a parent.

City High used to collect sh24,000 from each student per term for food, but this has increased to sh34,000.
A mini survey carried out by The New Vision last week discovered that some government and private secondary schools had raised their fees by about sh50,000. Even those that had not yet increased had applied to the ministry of education to allow them make some changes.

Some school authorities said students of Senior One and five could be in for a nightmare, come February 16 when they are reporting to school. This is because a lot is required from them unlike continuing students.

What if a parent cannot afford the fees? Can’t the administrators be lenient?

“No. This is a school, not a charity organisation,” says Hillary Kiiza, the director of Namirembe Hillside High School, where tuition is sh500,000 per term. “Installments maybe considered, but not coming with nothing.”

At St. Mary’s College Kisubi, the fees have remained at sh650,000, but the school is giving parents its budget such that those who can afford can aid them financially or materially.

“Our suppliers have increased the price of food and teaching materials,” says Edward Bukenya, the headteacher.

“This has forced us to cut expenditure on repairing school facilities.”

The parents of Uganda Martyrs Namugongo are also failing to raise a similar amount — sh650,000, which they have been paying per term.

“About 100 parents have come here requesting the school to admit their children for free or pay in installments. We are likely to consider their situation. However, they have to sign an agreement on when they will pay the balance,” says Muyingo.

Way forward

At Namirembe Hill Side, the school is considering long-term plans like growing its own food to cut costs. In the short run, however, schools have to be as frugal as possible.

For the parents, if you cannot raise the full amount of fees, it is better to approach the school administration in advance. This will save you embarrassment.

What does ministry of education say?

Albert Byamugisha, the assistant commissioner for planning, feels schools are using the financial crisis as an excuse to exhort money from parents.

“Some of these schools charge between sh500,000 and sh700,000. If a school has about 500 students, that money is enough to meet all the requirements,” Byamugisha says.

However, Byamugisha says if the increases are significant, they should be decided by the Parents Teachers’ Association boards. Quite disturbing, however, is the fact that Uganda does not have a limit on the school fees charged in schools.

In Kenya, all government-run secondary schools are not supposed to charge over KSh18,635 (about sh465,875), unless they have special projects.

Dr. John Mbabazi, the acting permanent secretary in the education ministry, says the ministry had allowed some schools to increase their fees. “We allowed schools with genuine reasons to increase the fees. Those complaining have not received a favourable response,” he says.

Mbabazi says the ministry has been handling the issue of school fees on a ‘case by case basis.’ The policy requires headteachers to seek approval from the permanent secretary before increasing fees.

Parents cry out as schools hike fees 

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